Notes from a family

Just two things on my mind for those who choose not to have kids:

a. We have moved from being a couple to being a family. Sure, we’re still a couple, and enjoy doing couple things. But that’s become a smaller part of our lives. Think of it the way that you both still enjoy doing “single” things though you’re now a couple. If you invite us without the kids sometimes, it’s a welcome thing for us to do; we certainly like to be away from them occasionally. But when you exclusively choose not to have our children around you, it’s equivalent to someone inviting you somewhere and not your S.O. Just as your S.O. is part of your life and deserves inclusion, likewise goes for our kids.

b. Our children are human beings. They are not distasteful possessions, and they are not a lower class. If you say “I don’t get along with children,” realize that what you are saying is akin to “I don’t get along with black people.” If you say “Children should be seen and not heard,” realize that what you are saying is akin to “Women should be seen and not heard.” Don’t be shocked that reasonable people take extreme offense to such statements. It’s not an issue of “how you’re built” or “you’re really not interested” or “this is your choice.” And don’t say “black people don’t cry in the middle fo the night and need their diapers changed.” These are human beings, and if you have prejudice towards them, you’ll be wise to keep it to your damn self.

No, that’s not quite fair. Some people don’t relate well to children. It’s not the same as saying they don’t relate to black people (adults).

Also, not relating to children or particularly enjoying them is not the same as saying they should be seen and not heard. Many people who are not “into kids” still respect their right to have access to places, and be included in things.

Not true. If my friends were hosting a barbecue or pool party or going to a park and invited me along but asked me not to bring my kids, I’d be a little ticked off. But to invite me for a dinner party, or for a day of shopping, or to the theatre, why should I insist they include my kids?

I think it’s fair for people to admit “I don’t get along with children”. I have friends that I would not consider inviting over for dinner, unless the sitter took my kids to her house. I can’t expect my children to enjoy the same things that I do and behave appropriately in adult situations. A dinner party with children invited is quite a different thing than a dinner party with black people invited.

But, istara, some don’t, and they turn their personal choice not to have children, into an excuse for not being around children, ever. Which means they miss out on things, or exclude friends who have children from their lives.

Whenever people start debating the whole childless thing on here, I want to say; “This may horrify you, but you didn’t spring fully-formed from your mother. There was a daywhen you shit your pants, put strained carrots in your hair and stuck your finger in your nose. You were once shorter than 3 feet tall and threw tantrums in the supermarket, a vision in your OshKosh overalls. People accommodatedyou then. Show some class and return the favour for once.”

I don’t think this is what the OP was talking about, in fact, he specifically said that he recognized there were times and places when being away from the kids was the better choice. I think he was talking about being completely excluded from his friend’s lives just because he has children, and they chose not to.

kung fu lola - agreed - but it’s still their personal choice. Just as it’s the choice of some people to have one child or five, or to have lots of pets, or not to have pets and avoid other peoples.

Granted, they should not expect to live in an empty world devoid of young humans. We share this world. And maybe they are missing out. It’s still their choice.

I just don’t agree that not relating to children compares to not relating to black people. The differences between adults and children are not the same as those between black and non-white people. There are important, significant differences between chidren and adult, which is why we respect that they have special needs, and need special protection. There is no real difference between black and white adults, save for their skin colour which has no true relevance.

Black and white adults can go to bars together, discuss politics and work together, drive cars, have relationships. Children - especially young children - cannot do these things. This is what makes them different, and also special. In a good way.

Some people though just prefer exclusively adult things. Others enjoy a range of activities, including the sort of fun and games that kids also enjoy.

Obviously that was supposed to be black and non-BLACK, but you get the point… :wink:

So that makes it okay for them to completely blow off their friends from then on? I don’t know if that’s what the OP was getting at, but I know that’s been the situation with me. I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, but I still had a handful of good friends who I could stop by and see or catch a movie with or just call up and chat. Then I had my son. I haven’t once been asked to go somewhere he could go since. As a matter of fact, I haven’t really been asked to go anywhere at all. It’s like I’m a social pariah because I have a child, and that sucks. If you consider yourself someone’s friend, is it really all that hard to suck it up and spend an hour or two with them and their kid at the park or in the yard instead of always flitting off to the casino or the bar? If that’s too much of a sacrifice for the “exclusive adults”, I have no qualms about saying that they’re pretty shitty friends.

This is happening to me right now! My parents 50th is coming up next year my sibs, some of whom have teenagers are putting forth plans that will not include kids because their kids have work school and sports schedules and their parents are interested in shelling out the dough to fly their entire family to the 50th dinner party.

SO I have two small childeren and also live thousands of miles away. I have no trusted babysittter to leave my kids with for a long weekend, in addition I would like my kids to see their aunts and uncles as they do not really know them. But it will be a childless event and its has been make clear that my kids are not expected or welcome at the dinner party. I was told that some stranger may be able to watch my kids for one night down there, while my husband and I attend this special family event. SO I will go and leave the husband and kids at home. It seems weird to have a family event where the grands are not included. Its really all due to the fact that my sibs are done breeding and others are non breeders and the jist of it is, is they are loathe to be around kids any more.

Even at a 50th wediing anniversary which should include the ENTIRE family IMHO.

I don’t agree with this. I used to be a shallow, high-maintanance bitch. (the type of woman who wouldn’t leave the house without hair, make-up and nails perfectly done, dressed to the nines). Just because I was on once, doesn’t mean I should want to be around them now. I don’t mind children at some times, but just because I was one once does not mean I should be subjected to them constantly, or in inappropriate situations (adult parties, etc.).

I don’t have problems with children, I have problems with parents who don’t have a clue.

<i>So that makes it okay for them to completely blow off their friends from then on?</i>

Yes, it does. Just because they were once your friend doesn’t obligate them to continue being so if you’ve made changes they don’t want to be a part of.

So, if they’ve decided that they’d rather find new friends than keep the existing friends with children, I’d say it is time to move on.

cagiva650, that is the most fucked up shit I have ever heard. I cannot believe that your children won’t be able to see their grandparents and other relatives. I’m pissed off, and it has nothing to do with me. (And I’m one of those terrible people who don’t like kids.)

Well it’s just as reasonable for your friends to blow you off for having kids as it is to expect them to change their lives or do things they don’t enjoy because your life and priorities changed.

People change, and lives change, and sometimes friends or lovers grow closer together, and sometimes they grow further apart. It’ not good, bad, or indifferent, it’s just life.

Bella, how often did your friends do stuff like go to the park or hang out in the yard before you had your son? Is the problem that your friends have changed, or that they haven’t? And when was the last time you called one of them and invited them to come to the park, or over for dinner, or to a movie, suggested getting a sitter and going to the casino? If you’re not reaching out, you’re just as at fault as your friends.

Yes, children are human beings, but let’s face it; they’re annoying human beings a fair bit of the time. The fact that you’re willing to put up with it, or that you don’t find it annoying, doesn’t mean that the fact that I’m annoyed and not willing to put up with it makes me a bad, prejudiced person. If my best friend’s husband is a loud, obnoxious boor who thinks the “pull my finger” thing is the acme of hilarity and routinely slaps her on the ass, no one will fault me for not wanting to be around him, and for only setting up girls’ nights out.

Being around my friends’ kids for more than about twenty minutes is really hard on my nerves, just like being around my hyperactive, overly affectionate lab mix is hard on people who aren’t into dogs. So, do I visit my friend the three times a year I get home and leave after 20 minutes, suffer in silence, or try to set up stuff where we go out without the kids?

cagiva - everything about that is weird and sad. I could understand there being an adult family event if you saw all your family every weekend, just as a change, but when you live thousands of miles away???

I would have thought they would have planned a children-friendly event specifically so they could see long-lost grandchildren/nephews/nieces etc.

Children might be human beings, sure, but they’re not socially and intellectually functional human beings. They’re adults-in-training. They spend 12 years not worrying too much about learning mature social interactions, then get a crash course in it over the next 6 years, and hopefully come out of that as interesting people who are part of adult society. It’s not “prejudice”, it’s just realizing that children have very limited ability to interact in interesting ways with adults.

Adults relate to each other not merely through direct means, but also through shared activity. Children are quite simply unable to participate in most adult activities. If what you enjoy doing is playing sports, you socialize through group physical activity, you may have very little interest in socializing with the bedridden and elderly or severly physically handicapped. You aren’t “prejudiced” against them in any malignant way, you just have no common interest with those people. So if what you enjoy is adult conversation, you probably have very little use for children.

A distaste for children is nothing like a distaste for black people. A distates for black people is probably based around either racist fears or illusory cultural differences. Children really are a different sort of person altogether, they are qualitatively different from adults in a way that really matters. The difference is not merely superficial, as with skin color.

Actually, we mostly used to just hang around the house, play cards, game, watch videos, etc. All things I’m still very capable of doing, just on a more limited basis. And my mom keeps my son every Sat. night, which they all know and yet I’m still left out of the loop for going out then. Calls go unanswered and unreturned. Plans made go ignored. Bah. That all sounds fairly pathetic, but at this point I’m pretty much over it. They’ve obviously decided the friendship isn’t worth the “trouble” anymore and far be it from me to force myself on people with better things to do. It just really hurt when I first realized the situation because I thought our friendships were stronger than that.
Regardless, I don’t mean to hijack with personal gripes. My point was simply that if a friendship is worth so little to you that you can’t make a few accomodations when someone’s circumstances change I don’t think you’re a very good friend. If you don’t like kids, then by all means try to schedule some kid-free time with your friends–but that means letting them know in time to get a sitter, not expecting them to get plastered and stay out all night, or maybe just meeting at their house after the kid’s bedtime. Maybe that’s unrealistic of me, but in my perfect world a friend would do those things.

And caviga–I think that’s horrid. Thankfully my family is very pro-kid. I’ve never been to a family gathering that didn’t have a whole slew of rugrats running around and frankly, I think that’s the way they should be. Kids are part of the family too, and twenty years from now they’ll be the ones doing the planning and keeping in touch so it seems a bit unwise to make them feel as if they don’t belong.

What? The grandkids aren’t invited to their grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary?

That’s crazy! What do your parents say about this, caviga?

I agree 100% with you on (a), Bill H. You appear to have a very easygoing and ‘give and take’ attitude, which I’m sure your friends appreciate, whatever their circumstances. :slight_smile:

About the only thing I can agree with in (b) OTOH, is the first sentence. Yes, your children are human beings. All children are human beings. There is a huge difference between saying “I don’t get along with children” and “I don’t get along with black people”. I guess instead of saying “I don’t get along with children” I could say “I don’t get along with anyone who exhibits childish behaviour”, since I don’t get along with any adults that behave like children either. Is that better ? It’s the behaviour that is the problem for some people, not the chronological age of the human. The fact that they don’t have the ability to behave in anything other than a childish manner doesn’t make me enjoy the behaviour any more or less. It does make me more tolerant of the behaviour, but I still have no desire to be around it. Does that make sense ?

Istara and RexDart covered the rest of that ground pretty well for me, so I won’t say any more on that.

I do not like children. I choose not to have them, I do not socialize around them, and I avoid any sort of contact with them if at all possible. I am not ‘missing out’ on anything because, as most of the population cannot comprehend, there are those of us who see no benefit whatsoever to children.

I have friends who have children. All of them have made sure I have never met or seen their kids.

And if you ask my mother you’ll find out that although I had no choice in the fact that I was once a child, I didn’t like it or other children then. She finds it almost amusing that I dested every part of childhood.

Just want to chime in with disagreement with the idea that “not liking children” equals “not liking black people.” Racial prejudice is almost always based on ignorance. But there isn’t an adult on the planet who hasn’t had first hand experience with children, because we’ve all been children at one point. Part of my distaste for children is that they remind me of what I was like at that age, and it’s not a pleasant memory. The other key difference, of course, is that sooner or later, children stop being children, and as such have an automatic escape from being included in the “oppressed” group. You don’t outgrow being black.

As for dropping friends who have kids, I’ve never done such a thing on purpose, but it often simply becomes too difficult to maintain a friendship, especially with very young children. Even when they’re well-behaved, I always feel like I have to be on guard about what I say, and a lot of the activities I enjoy with my childfree friends are simply not appropriate if there are children around. Case in point: one of my oldst and dearest friends just had a kid. He lives up in Humboldt county, which is a five hour drive from my house. I used to go up there every so often to hang out for the weekend, get atrociously stoned, and watch hyper-violent Japanese cartoons. Since the kid, my friend’s quit doing drugs, “questionable” videos have been removed from the house, and the guest bedroom is now the babies’ room. This guy is one of my oldest friends, and I love him dearly, but I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’m probably not going to be seeing him much any more. I don’t hold it against him or his kid. It’s just the way things are: the basics of our firendship have been pretty much invalidated by his recent lifestyle choices. Maybe in ten years or so, once the tyke is getting a little independence, we can reconnect. I’d like to think so, anyway.